Jan. 31, 2024 - While parade-goers are snagging purple, green, and gold necklaces from float riders this Carnival season, impaired drivers will get stainless steel bracelets – otherwise known as handcuffs – from law enforcement officers to keep the roads safe during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
The campaign, sponsored by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, begins Friday and will continue through Mardi Gras, February 13. The reason behind the campaign is simple: Too many people are getting hurt and killed in motor vehicle crashes involving impaired drivers, LHSC Executive Director Lisa Freeman said.
“In 2022, Louisiana had more alcohol-related fatalities and injuries during the Carnival season than during any other holiday,” Freeman said, referring to the Friday-through-Tuesday holiday period. “That is both tragic and unacceptable, and our law enforcement partners will be patrolling all parts of the state to find and arrest impaired drivers.”
During the 2022 Mardi Gras holiday, 11 people were killed and 120 people were hurt in crashes that involved a driver who had been drinking, according to the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety at LSU. From 2018-2022, 21 people were killed and 452 were injured in alcohol-related crashes, the statistics show.
While most of the attention is on New Orleans this time of year, impaired driving during the Carnival season is not isolated to the Crescent City, Freeman said.
“During Carnival 2022, there actually were no alcohol-related fatalities in Orleans or Jefferson parishes,” she said. “But drinking and driving during the Carnival holiday killed people in Acadia, Ascension, Caddo, East Baton Rouge, St. Charles, Tangipahoa, and Webster parishes in 2022. That’s why Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is a statewide campaign, because this is a Louisiana problem.”
During the campaign, LHSC makes extra funds available to law enforcement agencies across Louisiana to pay for more patrols. Troopers, police officers, and deputies have been trained to spot impaired drivers, and they will pull over and arrest anyone who has been drinking and driving.
“Carnival is one of the special things that sets Louisiana apart from anywhere else,” Freeman said. “It’s a season for friends and family to enjoy the parades, the parties, and the culture that culminates on Mardi Gras. But if you are caught drinking and driving, your Carnival season will end early, without beads, and in handcuffs .”